"Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils - no, nor the human race, as I believe - and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day." - Plato, The Republic
A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? Among all the knowledge and pursuits handed down by our ancestors, few were as important as philosophy, which literally taught people how to think and became directly responsible for ideas like reason and empiricism. Men like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle formed the backbone of Western philosophy, and subsequent philosophers like Marcus Aurelius and Thomas Aquinas expounded on previous philosophy. In Charles River Editors' Legendary Philosophers series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of the most important philosophers in history in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
In 427 B.C., the Ancient Greek city-state of Athens was flourishing. Approximately 80 years earlier, the Athenians had formed the first self-representative democracy in history, the Peloponnesian War against Sparta had only just started, and Socrates was only beginning to lay the foundation of what would become Western philosophy.